SS02 – Joe Yezzi’s 1976 GMC Indy 500 Pace Truck
Every once in a while, a custom vehicle shows up that captures the essence of hot rodding’s moment. Joe Yezzi’s Syndicate Series 02 (SS02) ’76 GMC is one of those vehicles. The truck taps into some of the hottest elements in rodding right now: squarebody trucks, ’70s influences, big-time LS power, and a refined custom approach that is all about clean, well-executed details.
Yezzi is the man behind Squarebody Syndicate, a lifestyle brand celebrating ’73-’87 GM trucks. You’ve probably seen the blue-and-white Syndicate Series 01 ’74 Chevy C10 that caused quite a stir a few years ago. This GMC created a similar stir when it debuted at the 2018 SEMA Show and has had enthusiasts clamoring ever since.
The truck was inspired by a trio of pickups GM provided as support vehicles for the 1975 Indianapolis 500, which were painted with red, white- and blue strobe stripes and participated in pre-race laps around the track. Squarebody Syndicate has acquired one of those trucks, which will remain original and preserved, but the notion of building a custom version was just too tempting, Thus, the SS02 project was born using another ’76 GMC.
Yezzi teamed up with Phoenix Hot Rod Company (formerly Hubcaps Hot Rods) to help with the build, which started with a Roadster Shop Syndicate Series chassis incorporating RideTech HQ shocks, an AccuAir air management system, Currie 9-inch rearend, and 14-inch Baer brakes. Curtis Speed carved the retro 20×9- and 20×11-inch turbine-style wheels, which were detailed with a black crinkle finish and wrapped in Michelin rubber.
Pro Dyno built the 675-horsepower LS3 engine, which was dressed up for a late-’70s vibe. This included a raw finish on the Magnuson supercharger and gold anodizing on the GSI Machine-built valve covers to mimic the look of vintage Moroso pieces. Even the Hooker headers were painted white. A Hays clutch connected the engine to a Tremec T56 six-speed from American Powertrain.
The Phoenix Hot Rod Company crew tended to the subtle and well-executed body mods, including a custom bed floor, core support, firewall, and inner fenders. They also did a fantastic job of recreating the distinctive livery of the Indy trucks using BASF R-M single-stage materials. GSI Machine carved the custom billet grille, while new bumpers came from LMC Truck.
Phoenix Hot Rod Company built the tight-fitting roll cage inside, where you’ll also find raw hide leather stitched by Empire Custom Upholstery. Painless wiring routes power to amenities like Old Air Products climate controls and Kicker tunes, while Syndicate Series instruments from Dakota Digital fill the dash. The custom emblems came from Billet Badges.
Simply put, SS02 pays homage to the past and incorporates the best modern parts in a style that’s striking, distinctive, and functional.
Photos by Damon Lee & Terry Lysak